Tomb Raider: Underworld Reader Review
Lara's latest adventure sees the conclusion of the story arc began in Legend, with Lara searching to determine the fate of her long-lost mother.
Eurogamer gave this a 7/10, and for me this is somewhat harsh. Underworld is a great game, in looks, storyline and gameplay. Sure the gameplay hasn't evolved considerably since TR1 (a common complaint, but what do people expect? A flight sim? An RPG?), but that's what makes playing the latest TR games a joy for me. Like slipping into a nice comfy pair of slippers, you know where you are with Lara and her big guns.
Ok, so this is not the most difficult game in the world to play, given you're playing with a gamepad (TR on the PC with a keyboard is another matter), and even the most average gamer shouldn't have much bother completing Underworld on its hardest setting, Master Survivalist. So challenging it ain't, unless you're looking to get all 1000 gamer points (360 version), where you have to (amongst other things) collect 6 hidden relics and 179 treasures through 6/7 levels the game offers.
The music is superb, and the score underlines the action and drama with aplomb.
The graphics are a large step up from Legend and Anniversary (despite what the EG review states, they are in fact "next-gen" graphics) and present sumptuous levels of honest to god beauty.
And the voice acting, with Keeley Hawes (the fit totty from Spooks and Ashes to Ashes) once again resuming leading lady duties (a role her cut-glass accent is perfectly suited to) is perfect, with never a bum line.
The gameplay is unchanged by and large throughout the series, which is a good thing, and in some views a bad thing. Although how it's a bad thing is beyond me, as changing the way the game plays changes what the game actually is: a 3rd person adventure/platformer with combat and puzzle elements. Change that and you have something like Fable 2 (an RPG-lite) or Zelda (a straight up adventure game).
People should just be grateful that we don't have another Angel of Darkness on our hands, and Crystal Dynamics seem to be steering the good ship Lara through clear waters so far.
The storyline, as mentioned at the top, is a continuation and conclusion of the arc introduced in Legend, with Lara seeking out the truth about the fate of her mother all those years ago in the Nepalese Monastery. There are a couple of twists, some character deaths and a feeling of a fresh beginning to come, what with Croft Manor having been destroyed...
My only criticisms of the game are the length (it's about a 6-12 hour game, depending on how much you want to get out of it) and the sometimes dodgy camera, which makes jumps in tight corners tough at times when it shouldn't really be.
So overall a game worthy of both better scores and sales than it has thus far received, which is a pity because it really is well worth playing, even if you're only remotely interested in TR.
And a game well worth playing is the best that any developer can hope for.
8 / 10